Bundle up. It’s January, under twenty degrees outside, and snowing. You are taking a cold walk in the middle of the street, holding a sign, and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of strangers who all look like Eskimos.
Welcome to the March for Life.
My First “Trip” to D.C.
Not entirely understanding how the March for Life worked my first year, I assumed we would be walking in the cold all day, back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, holding signs and praying quietly. I anticipated a few slightly boring days filled with dull speakers. I envisioned a couple thousand people, as the media inaccurately portrays, walking the streets all over the city.
Man, was I wrong.
My first March for Life went something like the first description. Cold, powerful, snowing, cold, 500,000 strangers, and cold. Those are the first words that come to mind when I think back on it. Did I mention it was cold? As a sophomore in high school, I did not know what to expect. I was decently pro-life and influenced by my friends to go on “the trip to D.C.” as they called it. We walked in the cold all weekend, but let me tell you: it is so much more than just a cold walk in D.C. with some friends.
Powerful, Prayerful, Personal
The pro-life March is an extremely powerful experience if you let it be. Yes, it is cold, and yes, snow will somehow manage to melt through your four layers, but it is important to see past the external.
Listen to the speakers; their stories are some of the most powerful that I have ever heard. These are people who have been personally affected by abortion, and you can hear in their voice how important ending abortion is to them. Sympathize with them, empathize with them, re-live their story with them.
During my first March, I saw men and women holding signs that say “I Aborted and I Regret,” “Product of Rape,” and “Survivor of Abortion.” Quite honestly, I was shocked! For them to admit this shows extreme strength. It cannot be easy admitting these difficult personal experiences. Pray for them and pray with them. You will be surprised how easily it is to connect to others through prayer. Pray quietly, join in a group rosary, allow yourself to be swept up in the majesty of prayer. You will never regret it.
The list of places to visit in our nation’s capital is endless. Each year, my group tries to cram as many Smithsonian museums, art galleries, monuments, and memorials as possible in our little time frame. One particularly frigid year, we took shelter in the United States Botanic Garden (I highly recommend it for thawing purposes). I learned so much about our country’s history and the men and women who served it in those few days. I learned about abortion and its history.
I learned about my peers and, as cliché as it sounds, I learned about myself. I learned where I stand in this movement, and I learned that I will never go back to being “decently” pro-life.
During Mass, adoration, reconciliation, and every other prayer-involved occasion, quiet yourself and really focus on it. It’s okay to be quiet sometimes. It’s also okay to be loud sometimes! Sing with the band (it’s hard not to), learn new songs, and participate! You are surrounded by thousands of teens who live in the same city as you, yet you have probably never seen before in your life. I promise that there are very few other experiences like it. Marvel at the extraordinary number of pro-lifers. Even take a few minutes to learn about them!
Not Just a Cold Walk
Make the most of your “trip to DC.” Make it so amazing that you never call it “a trip” again. Just like sports, theater, grades, and relationships, you will get as much from it as you put into it. Make the March for Life a memorable experience that connects you to your friends as well as to the strangers you march with. Relish this time because it is indescribably unique. It is far more than just a cold walk in D.C.